‘Those stoner days were hugely liberating’: Kiwi musicians reflect on a counterculture like no other
Cut off from the ‘swinging’ innovations of 60s London, a generation of New Zealand musicians forged an underground scene that propelled the nation’s modern identity
In the 21st century, New Zealand is widely hailed as home to a progressive Labour government, a hi-tech film and TV industry, formidable wineries and sagacious singers Lorde and Aldous Harding, alongside much else. It’s a far cry from the 1960s when the conservative National Party government maintained “rule Britannia”: little television – and zero film – was homemade, local brewery DB’s tasteless beers were the nation’s tipple and popular musicians tended to faithfully replicate British stars. But cracks in a conformist society began to appear towards the end of that decade, as a homegrown counterculture sprang up thanks to the government’s support for the US war in Vietnam and rock music developing into a vehicle for dissent.
For a nation now attuned to reevaluating its post-colonial history, there has been surprisingly little attention paid to this period when youthful energy disrupted Kiwi society via protest, humour, poetry and music. A new book, Jumping Sundays: The Rise and Fall of the Counterculture in Aotearoa New Zealand, details how, inspired by the Beats and the Beatles, an array of maverick personalities began shaking the nation out of its somnolence.